GonfBy Harry Hofherr

In the mid 70's there was a popular TV program called The Gong Show.

It was a Chuck Barris production and it was an earlier and better version of American Idol.  If you don't know who Chuck Barris is, look him up. His TV shows were legendary at the time.

Chuck was the MC and there was a panel of "celebrity" judges to keep it all in some sort of perspective. And it was a very loose fitting perspective for the day.

The aspiring idols performed short acts of varying talents and abilities. The judges' job was to bang a large gong when the acts were bad and ugly while awarding the good acts a couple hundred bucks or something as a prize.

A recurring performer on the show was a stagehand who far exceeded his fifteen minutes, but was worth every second of it. I'm talking about "Gene Gene The Dancing Machine".  Gene Gene would come on every few shows and do he same improvisational dance, never get gonged, and leave the stage with tremendous applause ringing in his ears.

In the mid 90's, my son was born. The modern miracle of medicine, vaccines, bestowed immunity on my son from childhood diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, diphtheria, polio, dengue fever, malaria, rickets, beriberi, Ebola fever, restless leg syndrome, and ED. When we had him baptized I figured we had covered all the bases.

I never imagined my son would end up a recurring contestant on today's version of The Gong Show. And I certainly never imagined "Gene Gene The Dancin' DNA Machine" becoming the new star of stage, screen, TV commercials, and nightly news.

When my son was diagnosed with autism eight years ago, I was told by the doctors and the government and the industry that the number of kids with autism was small. The teachers told us they were seeing more and more kids. Huh? Heads up.

I asked the doctors, "What in God's name is autism? Where did it come from?" I had a billion questions. But, the doctors didn't really know for certain what it is or where it came from but they were absolutely 100% unquestionably certain that the answers to autism were hidden deep inside the double helix and couldn't possibly be attributed to an outside influence. They just needed a little more time to find out where the clues were hiding.

Meanwhile I kept looking and my search for questions led me to a paper that suggested autism might be a novel form of mercury poisoning. Hmmmm….and what to my shock and awe should appear, but a billion different government mandated vaccines chock full of mercury. I asked what genius came up with this idea. Nobody really knew or was saying. I asked if somebody had tested to see if it was safe to inject babies and pregnant women with mercury. Nobody was really certain. The test subjects had all died. The doctors kept trying to hand me the answers but they were spinning too fast for anyone to grasp them.

The doctors continued chanting that they didn't know where autism came from but they were absolutely 100% swear to God cross my heart hope to die stick a needle in my eye positive autism doesn't come, from the needle they kept jabbing in my sons arms and ass.

I was told in some uncertain terms that autism most certainly could not have come from, or be linked to anything created by the crème de la crème of our species. The Medical Profession is pure and honest and smarter than you, so don't even go there.

The Medical Profession is, as Agent J (Will Smith) in "Men In Black" says,"…the best of the best. Yes Sir!" (FYI: My son loves "Men in Black" and has watched it now 14,987 times. He especially likes the part where Agent J pulls the metal table across the floor and makes this long loud screeching noise. He always turns up the volume at that part. It shakes the windows.)  These are the Best and The Brightest. They know more than the rest of us. They know the secrets of life. They are unraveling the sacred DNA. They are our new masters. They are the new high priests. In matters of medicine they are infallible.

That is the image they want us to have. That is the spin they've given themselves. Dr. House wants us to accept that inside an hour he can solve the most complex medical mystery ever conceived by man, nature, or scriptwriter. Dr. Welby wanted us to believe he always knew best. If you're in an accident in Boston, you ask to be taken to St. Elsewhere. In Chicago you beg for the E.R. They all have great caring smart witty and attractive doctors. The list goes on.

So how could I possibly suggest these guardians of humanity, the Titans of our genotype, the 300 standing at The Pass fighting back the approaching hordes of biological enemies would ever flinch? How could I ever dream that The Medical Profession could make such a simple stupid mistake on such a monumental scale? Never happen. They don't screw up.

Wanna Bet?

My eyes roll back and my head hurts when I think of all the good wholesome images of doctors I've been programmed with over the last fifty plus years. How did they let themselves and the rest of us down? How did they blow it?

"Vaccines have saved millions of lives all over the world." Over the past eight years I have heard that exact quote, or a variation, a hundred thousand times.

That is the sound of The Medical Profession hitting the Gong whenever they are challenged on this most fundamental pillar of their religion.  Then they bring on Gene Gene The Dancin' DNA Machine, and cue the canned applause.

A fictional TV show says mercury in a flu shot caused a little boy's autism and the mommy should get a couple hundred bucks or something as a prize.

Gong. That’s the sound of The Medical Profession practicing medicinal censorship. In matters of medicine they decide what we learn. Bring on Gene Gene The Dancin' DNA Machine, and cue the canned applause.

When asked, "But mercury is poison. Mercury is unsafe for the human body. It really isn't very smart to inject it into people. In fact, there really is a potential link between skyrocketing rates of neurological damage to children and mercury being injected into babies."

Gong. That is the sound of The Medical Profession denying any possible connection between a certifiable neurotoxin and neurological damage occurring in 1 out of every 5 children. Bring on Gene Gene The Dancin' DNA Machine, and cue the canned applause.

When asked, "But some doctors and some lab studies show that Ethyl and Methyl are like the evil stepsisters in Cinderella. They are not good for my baby to be eating or, shooting up."

Gong. Ethyl is the "Good Witch". Bring on Gene Gene The Dancin' DNA Machine, and cue the canned applause.


"But the Chairman of the Chemistry Department and the toxicologists that study mercury say that's hogwash. Mercury is really bad for us. The government agency that is supposed to protect us from the mercury says it's really really bad for us. The company that makes the mercury says it's really really really bad for us and it certainly shouldn't be shot into babies and pregnant women. They all say that mercury is a mutagen. It changes our DNA."

Gong, Gong, Gong, Gong, Gong, Gong………

Harry Hofherr and his wife have three children; two daughters and a son, Eric 11, who has autism. He has been in sales and marketing for over 25 years.


Harry Hofherr

Thank you all for the comments. I'll try to get something else written soon.

By the way, A friend told me that the prize on the Gong Show was actually $516.32.He said it was "Scale at the time and Cuck Barris didn't want to have to pay any more than that. What a guy.

Thanks again.


Sandy Gottstein

GREAT column!

All I can say is, "Ethymercury, Shmethylmercury"......


Kelli Ann Davis


You are hysterical – as in hysterically funny!

The Men in Black and metal table part was classic – what parent can’t relate to that?

You have GOT to write more – you’re a natural :-)

Michelle O'Neil

A very powerful piece. It caputures the frustration completely of trying to convince anyone of anything they don't want to hear.

Dan Olmsted

I second Angela's comment and hope you'll keep writing and keep posting on AOA.

Maddie's Daddy

My precious 9 year old Madison is mildly autistic. We considered not immunizing her, as we had heard the stories. We got the first round of shots and not the last two. We eventually did it anyway because she wasn't allowed in public school with immunization. By the time she got her first immunization, however, she had already displayed symptoms of Autism. From out of the shoot, she was hyper sensitive to touch and sound. She walked late, talked late, and had other symptoms of Autism. FYI, through loving her and meeting her where she is, and not demanding she develop at the pace of 'normal' children, she has overcome to a great degree many of the symptoms which dogged her at first. She would turn her back to people when she HAD to hug them until she was about 6. Then she began to gently lean in, and now she (at 9) she gives me the biggest Daddy hugs and kisses I've always wanted, every time I come home from work! After being in special education all her life, she has now, in the past 6 months, rocketed in her schoolwork and reading and writing, so that she is now performing at a 6th grade level in reading and computers. Just meet them where they are, and love them completely. Treat your children like you would want to be treated. And pray. Ask for God's help in connecting with your autistic children and be patient. You'll be amazed. It's not mental illness. It's system overload. You CAN help reach them. They DO love you. Meet them where they are, and help draw them out. They'll come. Just wanted to share my experience.


Harry, you have done an awesome job of portraying the sum of our lives. Great piece of work. Thank you so much.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)